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McLaren F1 esports series boosts British American Tobacco gaming presence

Esports series featuring celebrity races at McLaren HQ gets Velo nicotine pouch title branding.

7 January 2021 Ed Dixon
  • Four-part series to conclude at end of April
  • Races to be livestreamed on Velo’s YouTube channel
  • BAT returned to F1 with McLaren in 2019

McLaren Racing are launching a celebrity esports series with nicotine pouch brand Velo as part of the Formula One team’s ongoing global partnership with British American Tobacco (BAT).

The four-part Velo Eseries, which launches on 9th January and runs until the end of April, will see famous faces go head-to-head. Series one will kick off with UK musician Craig David taking on social media star Alex Hirschi, known as Supercar Blondie, who has more than 34 million followers on Facebook and 8.3 million on Instagram, as well as 5.3 million YouTube subscribers.

The new series, which will be played on the official Formula One gaming title, is part of BAT's plans to gain brand awareness for Velo by connecting fans across motorsport, music and entertainment. Velo customers will also have the opportunity to participate and race against celebrities and win exclusive prizes.

All content from Velo Eseries 1 will be available on Velo’s social channels, including the livestream of each virtual race on the brand’s YouTube channel, with the first race set to take place on 6th February.

“McLaren and Velo share a similar passion for putting fans at the heart of engaging experiences. It’s great to kick-off the New Year while we wait for the new Formula One season to get underway with this exciting new eracing initiative,” said Mark Waller, McLaren Racing’s chief commercial offer.

“Fan engagement continues to be more important than ever during these times so it’s great to work with our partners to develop fantastic experiences like this.”

Paul Lageweg, BAT’s new categories director, added: “Velo is all about creating exciting experiences for our adult nicotine consumers, encouraging them to find their edge, and we are bringing this to life with our new Velo Eseries programme.

“The popularity of adult gaming has continued to grow, so we’re excited about tapping into this trend, adding an exciting and entertaining twist with some famous faces. It’s important that we always look for new and creative, digital-first ways to use our global partnerships to connect with our consumers and delight audiences around the world.”

The announcement marks the latest high-profile nonendemic brand to get involved with esports. While McLaren and BAT have made clear that the series is targeted for adult nicotine consumers, gaming’s comparatively youthful following will likely lead to some objections. In 2018, research and consulting company Nielsen put the average age of an esports fan at 26-years-old.

Codemasters / Formula One

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